A team of young Māori paddlers, Ngā Tauira Māori, are training hard for the world's longest and most challenging outrigger canoe races that take place in Hawaii next month.
The team of University of Auckland students won the university's Great Waka Ama Race in March, earning an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii where they will compete in the Queen Liliuokalani Memorial Canoe Race.
As defending champions, the team beat six other student teams competing for the prize trip to paddle in the long distance race which covers 18 miles or nearly 29 kilometres.
Waimirirangi Stone has competed in Waka Ama since she was 12-years-old and at high school.
She said with Hawaii being the home of how va'a - or waka ama - there would be some stiff competition, but just taking part was reward enough.
"It feels awesome, we've been training hard since last summer.
"It's really exciting, we don't know what to expect as some of us are experienced in waka ama and some aren't. A lot of us haven't encountered an event such as the Queen Liliuokalani race before so yeah, it's exciting for everyone.
"We're really wanting to do our uni and Aotearoa proud."
Waimirirangi Stone said there would be more than 150 teams participating across the four-day event.
"Hawaii being a home of hoe va'a (waka ama), we can only do our best. The experience of just participating is a big enough reward in itself," she said.
Director of Sport and Recreation Louis Rattray said it was the first year the university would be represented at the world's largest outrigger canoe race.
The winning team to travel to Hawaii includes Noenoe Barclay-Kerr, Janell Dymus, Te Ra Hodges-Tai, Ngahuia Ormsby, Tamoko Ormsby, Waimirirangi Stone, Apenti Tamanui-Fransen, and Tai Stephens.